An immigrant’s perspective Hans Hallundbaek, Director, Interfaith Prison Partnership and United Nations Representative for International Prison Chaplains Association.
“As an immigrant having spent five of my formative years under Nazi regime during WWII, I know what loss of freedom and democracy means.“While an occasional test of a democracy’s outer limits may serve to demonstrate its validity and preciousness, it will only succeed when such a challenge is done within universal moral and spiritual laws.
“Sadly, the responsibility for last week’s Capitol takeover must be placed squarely on the U.S. president encouraging a segment of the public in a belief that freedom is rugged individualism and a ‘free-for-all,’ instead of freedom under the law and sacred constitution of this country.”
Sharon Griest Ballen, Chair, Prison Relations Advisory Committee, Town of Bedford; Program Coordinator, Interfaith Prison Partnership; NGO Representative to the United Nations for the International Prison Chaplains Association.
“Like every other person of reason, I am appalled and deeply saddened by what we all witnessed with the attempted coup of our Capitol and our government. “Who should be held responsible? The simple answer is the perpetrators of this crime.
No matter that they have been fed untruths, no matter how they were ‘encouraged’ to do what they did, they made a choice to invade the Capitol and disrupt the democratic process.
The more complex answer is that the blame has a very wide net, starting at the top, for as Mitt Romney said, the attack happened because of ‘a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months.’
Donald Trump was not alone in promulgating lies, untruths and hatred of the most base nature. There are many in government, in the media, who stood firmly with him in disseminating his lies, feeding his weak ego. In the most broad sense, we were all complicit because we could not ascertain a way to stop it. How does one convince another of distorted thinking? It is next to impossible.
“How does America move forward? There will, of course, be arrests and trials, which may bring out more violence and hatred. If convicted, I pray that there will be rehabilitation for the perpetrators, for as one who works in prison reform, I do believe that we are all capable of change, and that we are all responsible for our actions. “The kind of healing that needs to happen in this country will take years, perhaps generations. But I do believe that President Biden will start us down a path of partnerships, working together, seeing each other as neighbors rather than enemies.
I do not mean to imply that he can do this alone. We need better parenting so that children grow up not to be damaged but to possess emotional maturity. We need better education so that we all understand what democracy demands of us. We need to learn how to truly “debate” so that a difference of opinion remains just that: a difference of opinion, not a personal assault on a weak ego.
We need curiosity, not fear, of difference. “We have to take a good, hard look at who we are and who we want to be. We all need to search our souls. There are no easy or quick answers to any of this.”